Last week I was out in the SUV with a client.  Not only was I with a client, but the client's family which included a small child, a mother in law, the mother, and another couple.  We were cramped but safe.  I made a mistake and turned where I shouldn't have turned.  I turned around and drove up to the police knowing I would get a fine or at least a stern lecture.

The plod approached my window and in a brief introduction determined that my Thai was about as good as his English.  Not very good.  I asked what I had done wrong and he couldn't explain it to me.  I nodded my head yes like I understood, but I didn't.  Usually this expedites things.  Meanwhile I'd placed 200 baht up near the window sill where he could see and take it, and his fellow plods could not.  He laughed at the 200 baht and said he'd be needing 1500 baht.  Wow, that's three times the price of the real fine.  Still, I said I would be glad to pay if he'd provide a receipt.  He asked me to leave my car in the middle of this dangerous intersection with my clients and their family inside so I set my flashers and followed him to the sort of cement police shack you commonly see under any bridge or overpass.

Inside the cement shack he motions to take a seat on a hard cement bench and says "We are men, let us talk as men?"  I was fine with talking like men.  "I want 1500 baht!"  "Sir, I will happily pay you any fine you deem necessary, but I will require a receipt with your name and badge number in return."  He balked and became angry.  I pulled out my small pocket cam, my Fuji Finepix F200 EXR and took his picture, another of him and a close by co-worker, and then a few out the window of my car in the middle of the intersection.  Both of the cops really didn't like me taking pictures.

"We want 1500 baht" they repeated.  This time the other plod joined in with a nice chorus as they sung me their fee.  And I repeated myself but added one thing. "I'll be happy to pay any fine.  But I will require a receipt with your names and badge numbers (now letting them know I'd be recording both their information) in exchange for the 1500 baht because my embassy will reimburse me and they like to keep track of problem intersections and problem police officers."  Both plods looked at each other, whispered to each other, and then asked "do you have an embassy ID card?" I replied "Yes, it's in my car, shall I get it for you?"  That was the second everything changed.

The waied me deep.  They walked me back to my car to make sure I got there safe, checked the car for damage, and told me I could go. "Please go, Please go" they said.  They weren't at all interested in seeing the ID.  They were no longer interested in their 1500 baht.

I know I did something wrong at that intersection.  I'm not sure exactly what and they couldn't tell me.  As such I was more than willing to pay the standard 400 baht fine at the police station, or the lesser 200 baht expedite fine to the police officers personal fine collection account.  However, I was not willing to be fleeced because this plod felt he had a car full of well off farangs.  His demand for 1500 baht was way out of line.  Him making me leave my car and its passengers in the middle of the intersection was further out of line.  He was a crook and I called him on it.

I was with my client the day before when I got pulled over and had to pay a 200 baht graft.  AT the time I mentioned to him that I've been stopped over 100 times in the last 2-3 years.  91 of those times has been in a 1 square kilometer area.. the magic kilometer as it surrounds Soi 3/4 off Sukhumvit.  It's very obvious the plods in this area regularly line their rather deep pockets as frequently as possible with graft.  In three years I've been stopped 7-8 other times on the highways by the highway police.  Each time I earned it.  Each time I was handled professionally, fined 200 baht, and let go with a warning.  The only time I ever have issues in Bangkok, on the Bangkok streets, is in that one square kilometer from Soi 3/4 on Sukhumvit outwards.


Until next time..